Published on February 25th, 2014 | by John Lyons0
La U and Unión meet the boys from Brazil
Universidad de Chile and Unión Española will have to raise their game when they take on Brazilian opposition in the Copa Libertadores.
Belo Horizonte – La U get the ball rolling later this afternoon (5.30pm) when they take on Cruzeiro in the Estadio Mineirao – and it promises to be a searching examination.
In fact, Cristián Romero´s troops will become the first Chilean team to beat Cruzeiro on Brazilian soil if they can pull off a shock result. Cruzeiro have won ten and drawn three of their home clashes against Chilean opposition.
La U have wobbled in the Clausura of late, but at least they have three points from their opening Copa Libertadores Group 5 game against Defensor Sporting on the board. Gustavo Lorenzetti scored the crucial goal in the 1-0 home win.
And, strangely, it is Cruzeiro who are currently bottom of the group, albeit having only played one game. They went down to a shock 2-1 defeat in their opening match against Real Garcilaso in Peru, while Defensor Sporting recovered from their defeat against La U to thrash the Peruvians 4-1 at home.
It means Cruzeiro will be even more determined to make it a four-way fight at the top by winning this afternoon. And they will also be eager to win on their return to Copa Libertadores action in their home stadium – they haven´t played at the Mineirao in South America´s top club competition for four years due to rebuilding work.
Romero has stressed that his players mustn´t allow Cruzeiro to become comfortable on the ball. They need to get in and break up the play.
He said: “We must play to the limit, to the maximum and we have to neutralise Cruzeiro. To do that, we must be fully concentrated.”
Meanwhile, Unión Española must put their 3-1 defeat against Everton at the weekend behind them when they host Botafogo at Estadio Santa Laura tomorrow night (7.45pm).
Unión began their Libertadores campaign with a creditable 2-2 draw at Ecuador´s Independiente del Valle last week, but face a step up in class in their second Group 2 clash.
Botafogo kicked off with an impressive 2-0 home win against Argentinian champions San Lorenzo de Almagro.
Unión´s hopes have been hit by an injury crisis. They are expected to be without captain Gonzalo Villagra, Diego Scotti, Sebastián Jaime, Mario Larenas and Dagoberto Currimilla.
Chile´s other Libertadores representatives, O´Higgins, aren´t in action this week.